ONE races in open water over ten kilometres, the other does two laps in the pool. But, while Keri-anne Payne and Scott Quin compete at opposite ends of swimming’s event spectrum, they train together at Edinburgh’s Warrender club, and hope to help each other to global success this summer.
Both have enjoyed highly encouraging starts to the year. Quin, who competes in the S14 para-swimming classification, has already set a world record in the 100 metres breaststroke and has his sights set on the IPC World Championships in Glasgow in July. Payne, twice a world champion and the Olympic silver medallist in 2008, was second in the Swim The Swan race in Perth, Australia, then won the Midmar Mile in South Africa.
With 150 days to go before the IPC Worlds begin at Tollcross, the two met up in Edinburgh yesterday to publicise the event, and to explain why, despite the stark contrast between their events, they can learn from and inspire one another. “At Warrender we all have the same coaches – Laurel Bailey and Kris Gilchrist – and we all have very similar sessions,” explained Payne, who married fellow swimmer David Carry and moved from Manchester to Scotland after the London Olympics. “Mine are sometimes longer than Scott’s, but the same philosophy runs through the programme.
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“It’s really great to train with Scott, because he’s such a bright character. He’s always got something funny to say – something that makes everybody laugh no matter what mood you’re in.
“He just fits in perfectly. He can do everything that we can do, so there’s not this big stigma about him being disabled.”
Quin, whose class is for swimmers with learning difficulties, was awestruck when Payne turned up at Warrender, but quickly found out how down to earth she is. “She’s a very good role model – she’s so organised,” he said. “She’s very caring towards other people. If you’re not sure about something, you can ask her.
“She came into the club and we were all thinking: ‘You’re Keri-anne Payne, what are you doing in our squad? We’re not in the same league as you.’ But she settled in very well in the first few weeks. And because she is the oldest [at 27], she knows a lot of things. It’s like having a mother figure to keep the squad gelled together.
“When she went off to Australia for six weeks, we were all going: ‘Where’s Keri-anne?’ We were a bit lost without her.”
For 24-year-old Quin, the crucial milestone on the road to the world championships is in six weeks, when the British trials take place. Payne’s qualification process has already begun well thanks to those first and second places, and then the worlds in turn become a qualifying event for the Rio Olympics – an event which, after the 2013 world championships, she thought she would not compete in.
“It was the most violent race I’ve ever had in my whole life,” she said. “I came out of it so angry, so annoyed that the girls think that’s the way they can treat other swimmers.
“I made that very well known, which isn’t like me. I think I said ‘if this is how open-water swimming is going to be, I want nothing to do with it any more’.
“Four hours later I had gone full circle and decided: ‘No, I’m going to go to the Olympic Games and I’m going to win. I’m going to show everybody that you can do it right, you don’t have to cheat, you don’t have to pull people’s legs back, you don’t have to swim over people to do it. You can do it in a good, sportsmanlike way’.
“The races I’ve been in since have seemed to be better. But the world championships are always going to be rough.”
• The IPC Swimming World Championships will take place at Glasgow’s Tollcross International Swimming Centre from 13-19 July. Tickets are available via www.ticketmaster.co.uk/Glasgow2015.